Monday, 22 August 2011

Working and making and creating



Often, working at home means that it is difficult to draw the line between work and not-work. Notice that I don't say leisure, as I am not sure what leisure means nowadays - is gardening a hobby when you are growing your own food, and food for B&B guests to eat? Does housework count as paid work when you are cleaning the guest wing of the cottage? Are sewing and knitting leisure activities when you aren't making things to sell, but making them to use or to give rather than buy?


The poet Philip Larkin talked about not 'let[ting] the toad work squat on your life', and amongst all the different things I do to earn a crust there are some toady bits, but I prefer D H Lawrence's poem 'Work'  which recommends work that 'absorbs you like an absorbing game' - this weekend I was able to take the Lawrence approach, banish any hint of squatting toads, and lose myself in some making and creating.


It is not finished yet but just looking at the happiness colours of the fabric, and the stitches taken so gently, sitting so quietly, listening to Anthony Trollope's The American Senator (I have never read it, but I am ordering it in post haste) on Radio 4, takes me back to a Saturday afternoon out of time and fret and fever.


And even on a Monday, when the toads wake and rear their ugly, swollen heads again, at home the kitchen is filled with the pungent smell of plum chutney (recipe here), the measurable result of work which is making and creating. And it has promise for the future: the pleasure of eating, pleasure deferred, is enhanced by the memory of sowing, and growing and harvesting and chopping, in a continuum from earth to table.




There is jelly in the making, drip, drip, dripping its taste and sweetness into a bowl on the table. Tiny purple-black bush plums from the hedgerow, no work to grow, nature's bounty to harvest and store in rosy and jewel-like jars for the winter.


The tomatoes and peppers fill baskets, prolific and red - more goodness to be savoured when the plants are long gone.


And what to do with the cucumbers - don't tell me to pickle them, please, but delicious while they last.


There is work where the end is concrete and visible, not something repetitious to tick off, but cyclical and seasonal and sustaining, work to look back on and revisit and remember when the toads are long gone, squatting in their stagnant pools, bitter tasting.

I know which work I prefer . . .



31 comments:

Amy said...

Mark is making pickles right now! It looks like your gardens are doing well!

Annie said...

Such abundance! And I'm with you on which is the preferable work :D

Arianwen said...

when there is pleasure in it, you can't really refer to it as work can you? Being able to spend time doing what you like is such a bonus.

VintageVicki said...

I think we're all in agreement about what sort of work is best ;)

Plum chutney sounds lovely :)

Katherine said...

Um, when do you sleep?!
Seriously, love the pretties you've been making (of the fabric and the food kind... Yum!)

andrea creates said...

nothing better than when you love your work-and it doesn't seem like it...:)

Menopausalmusing said...

It's that time of year again isn't it? An abundance of plums this year so I shall be busy over the next few days.

Gypsy and Nell said...

I think that big bad toad was sat right on my shoulder today!...it was hot, the house was a total disaster zone, and I scrubbed and cleaned, thinking I'd rather be somewhere else doing something nice..... But Mr toady is back in his stagnant pool, the house is tidy, and I feel better for doing it. Tomorrow I might get to do something nice!!!!!
A very though provoking post,, thank you! xx
Sophie
Totally love your pretty fabric flowers x

Katy Cameron said...

I'd love to be able to grow some of my own food, alas, I live in a flat in a city centre. One day, when I grow up, I'll have a house and garden of my own!

Michela said...

So is Kent a good place for growing healthy red tomatoes?! Judging by your lovely crop, I think so!
Have a good week!
x

Angel Jem said...

Work to love or love to work? My paid work is teaching ( I like children) my unpaid work is mothering (I like children). Lucky, or what?
And I don't know what to do with a glut of cucumber... plenty of eye masks, perhaps? Have fun!

Mrs. Micawber said...

I covet those tomatoes! Ours are hanging fire (or hanging green, to be precise) because the nights have been so cool they don't want to ripen.

Not being a pickle lover, I like to slice up cukes, drizzle with a slightly sweet vinaigrette, sprinkle with lemon thyme, and serve next to savoury dishes such as spicy lamburgers.

I'm not sure it even matters whether the sewing and knitting are leisure activities or work. What matters is that you make each item as well as you possibly can, and take some pleasure in the making. (Making things to sell takes a lot of the fun out of the process and renders it much more toadish.)

That's a very beautiful bit of appliqué in the top photo.

HOPE said...

Just found your LOVELY blog...I hope to visit you often..

I read of your wonderful B & B and the sweet attnetive care you give to your guest.

Looking to view that blog also.

Love the cottage coziness. You are soo talented.

HOPE

Beth said...

Oh you're doing better than us with your tomatoes, this year for the first time ours aren't doing so well. I'm lucky on the cucumber front, my youngest will happily eat at least one a day, otherwise we'd be overrun and I hate wasting home grown vegetables.

That toad has moved in my direction at the moment!

Beth/The Linen Catx

Tracey Todhunter said...

What gorgeous photos. I work from home too and feel lucky to love what I do. I've been reading your posts for a while and finally plucked up courage to say hello!
Tracey x

ted and bunny said...

I tend to think of it as working within our lives...or our life's work

Each day is a work day, but because we run ourselves each day is also a productive day, even in times of what a salaried person may count as Great Stress.

Personally, I find some tasks hard to discipline myself for (paperwork for one; even though he's younger than me I still think of the accountant as a Grown Up) but I wouldn't swap my way of life for all the £s on offer in a "proper job".

So many of my friends dread a Monday Morning return to work after the weekend, but weekends blend seamlessly with a task-driven ethic, and I look forward to what each day brings, even when the to-do list is a bit daunting!

Apart from a few weeks behind a shop counter when I left school I've never had a "proper" job, and I'm sure I'm unemployable now.

Crumbs...this is turning into a veritable essay...xx
ps I've been juicing cucumbers- very refreshing...

Lyn said...

I think you deserve a little time to play and create or as my friend use to say work will take over your life!
xxx

Barbara said...

Such delicate colours on your new needlework.

I recently read that working at what one enjoys and not stopping in old age, increases life span.

Yes they are lemon cucumbers and we shall enjoy today!

Lydia @ Twelve said...

I have loved reading this post, thankyou, its been very thought provoking....
Will be reading the poems mentioned.

& lovely pictures from your days...

Lx

Karen L R said...

Gibran wrote that "work is love made visible', still one of my very favorite quotes of all time.

This was a lovely post. Thank you. xo

elizabethm said...

This is a very pertinent question for us right now. The productive work, the gardening., the pickling and jam making, goes on but recently has all felt rather overwhelming with so many other demands on our time and family needing us and the kitchen in boxes under the table. It's good to be reminded that the plums weighing down the tree are both yet another task and a source of satisfaction and delight.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Talk about coincidence Pomona. At lunch time the farmer said how many plums we had on the tree and did I want them? I made plum chutney last year but could not find the recipe!!

I've copied it down but could you please let me know whether it is 2 pounds each of muscavado and demerara or two pounds altogether?

I shall make it tomorrow. Thanks

millefeuilles said...

Work can be joyful. As you have so accurately put down in words the importance is to surround yourself and your workplace with pleasurable objects and rituals which create a happy everyday existence as well as memories.

Sue said...

I know which work I prefer too! Fortunately I have a long summer break, holidays would be the wrong word as I never seem to stop during that time. I have run out of jam jars at the moment having made so much. It is nice to have a breather for a few days though!

Nicky said...

Look at those colours that ruby red is sumptuous! Also listening to Radio 4 and enjoying a bit of Trollope!

melanie said...

I love this time of year, all the preserving and pickling, yours look wonderful! :) xxx

Kath said...

OOh that jelly is making my mouth water!

millefeuilles said...

Dear Pomona,

I have linked to your blog AGAIN and I wanted you to be the first to know I am holding a giveaway which might warm the cockles of your Kent heart! ;-)

Have a lovely week.

Lola Nova said...

Oh my, all sorts of gorgeous going on over here! I can almost smell that jelly!

Catherine said...

Oh I do adore the glorious large floral that your are incorporating! How did your jelly turn out...looks such a glorious colour even at the drip, drip stage. I have very fond memories of my Nan making guava jelly & the bag hanging over the old claw foot bath. I've planted several guava trees & made a wonderful lot of jelly this last season & some guava paste too which is so scrummy & even nicer than quince. What did you do with the cucumbers in the end..gazpacho?

Helen Philipps said...

Your fabrics are so pretty! And what marvellous, abundant produce you have grown. Hope you enjoy a bit of free time this week to indulge in whatever you would like to do best!
Helen x

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails